Calling Cards

For most of my employed life I had cards from whichever employer I was working for at the time. And I used them for all of the usual reasons: vendors, industry colleagues, parents.

However, having 1) returned to school in late 2010, 2) declined the offer to purchase U of T cards, and 3) found myself underemployed post-graduation I wondered if I should create my own. I’ve since accepted a job offer(!) but it was on my mind at the time and still is.

I asked my friends on Facebook for their thoughts on business cards: how many have them, do they have more than one depending on the context, what’s on them, how do they use them. My friends appear evenly split between salaried and freelance and so I thought I’d get a nice range of replies. I did.

One friend, when I asked specifically how many people include a business name (particularly if they don’t have one as such), said that she considers her cards as calling cards, not business cards. I like that idea: not only is it kind of charmingly old school (I can imagine some dapper guy stepping back into his coach, having left his calling card for the Young Lady of the House), in a lot of cases it contains the information one actually needs: salient details about the person, not necessarily where they’re from.

I don’t think there’s any point in denying that people gauge social/industry capital based in part on where you work. But gauging that capital is based on assumptions; as far as I’m concerned one is better off talking to the person as a person, a colleague in the industry, rather than presenting as a) starry-eyed, b) intimidated, or 3) predatory.

Of course, knowing someone in Organization X can never hurt, but when networking — and this approach makes me less intimidated when I’m at networking events — I see people, not their employers or positions. And, ideally, that’s who they see when they meet me.

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